According to data from the United States Sentencing Commission, punishment for trafficking Fentanyl in the United States is getting lighter in recent years. Simultaneously, the amount of fentanyl traffickers and fentanyl related overdose deaths have gone up dramatically.
The Massachusetts Department of Health released data showing that Massachusetts opioid-related overdose deaths rose again in 2022 and New Bedford had more opioid-related overdoses than Fall River and Brockton.
On August 16th, a New Bedford man was sentenced in federal court in Boston for fentanyl distribution charges. He was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of distributing and possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl in the New Bedford area.
According to the CDC, “Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths. Even in small doses, it can be deadly. Over 150 people die every day from overdoses related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.”
Below I will be comparing data on “Fentanyl Trafficking Offenses” released by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) in 2018, to the same measures they released in 2021 (which is the most recent year of data).
• In 2018 The average sentence for fentanyl trafficking offenders was 74 months, while in 2021 the average sentence was 58 months.
• In 2018 49.6% of offenders served less than 5 years of punishment, while in 2021 58.7% of offenders served less than 5 years of punishment.
• In 2018 23.4% of offenders served 10+ years of punishment, while in 2021 15.7% of offenders served 10+ years of punishment.
• In 2018 Massachusetts had 33 Fentanyl trafficking offenders, while in 2021 Massachusetts had 86 Fentanyl trafficking offenders.
Some are worried that Fentanyl is being normalized which is resulting in the lighter sentencing of recent years. Others argue that we shouldn’t be filling our prisons with individuals that commit “non violent crimes”. I personally do agree that possessing certain drugs shouldn’t leave you locked in a cage for several years, although Fentanyl feels different. Distributing Fentanyl is essentially the act of distributing lethal poison, a lethal poison that is killing our loved ones by the millions.